Friday, November 5, 2010

We See This Sometimes

Have you ever been to the doctor only to be let down with the words of the unknown/unexplainable "we see this sometimes." In Dr. Groopman's book, he presents a case of another doctor seeing a pediatric patient. He is uneasy at his findings but doesn't know exactly what to make of it. He even consults with a pediatric doctor who tells him, "we see this sometimes." The patient eventually ends up being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The original doctor makes the following comment, "When you hear that sentence ('we see this sometimes'), reply, Let's keep looking until we figure out what is wrong or know the problem has passed." This is excellent advice.

If your doctor ever utters the words (or something similar), "we see this sometimes" and wants to leave it at that consider using the reply above. Another is to ask "what 's the worst thing that this could be. In asking what the worst thing this can be is, you are not being difficult or pessimistic but helping the doctor to generate at least one alternative diagnosis. A third question that could be posed to the doctor is "What body parts are near where I am having my symptom?" Be cautious in accepting a we don't know what is causing your symptoms diagnosis.

Dr. Groopman makes another excellent point when he says, "what we say to a physician, and how we say it sculpts his thinking. (This) includes not only our answers but our questions."

Do you have a story to share about having an unknown diagnosis?

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